Chicago Police Department’s Bike Patrol Trials Smart Watches
Wednesday, November 07, 2018 | Comments

The Chicago Police Department is trialing smart watches with customized applications for its officers on bike patrol. About 10 officers use Samsung Galaxy smart watches with a mobile dispatch application to keep their hands free but interact with dispatch as needed.

The trial started in July 2017, and Northrop Grumman provided the CommandPoint Mobility, which brings CAD interaction to the smart phones. Distinct patterns of vibration and screen colors alert responders to critical information. Officers can interact with the watch to acknowledge notifications, change their response or availability status and activate an emergency alert that will notify surrounding officers when they are in distress.

The watches are used with a Verizon data plan and paired with the user’s mobile phone via Bluetooth. The app is optimized for the form factor and screen size of the watch.

“It’s something we are looking to expand,” said Chief Jonathan H. Lewin, Chicago Police Department Bureau of Technical Services.

Lewin said cost is a factor, considering the department is still trying to equip every first responder with a smartphone. The Chicago Police Department has purchased 3,000 smartphones, and mobile dispatch is one of the key applications, allowing officers to run name and vehicle checks and implement safety alerts if necessary.

Lewin said more highly accurate speech to text technology — planned for the next edition of Samsung’s watch — will improve the utility of the devices for public safety. “We want much higher quality speech recognition, and we want to get that to officers so they don’t have to touch anything [on the watch] and can focus on the things in front of them,” he said.

The Chicago Police Department is also considering the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) service. The city’s LMR network is in the process of being upgraded to digital technology, and Lewin said a mix of communications services and networks are likely to be used for some time.

Reg Jones, U.S. head of public sector, Samsung Electronics America, said smart watches allow person-to-person communications using predefined messaging, a keyboard for typing or drawing. The watch also has embedded sensors to detect and analyze environmental factors such as heart rate and location. The watch can vibrate with alerts for an incoming call or message, allowing discretion for the user. In addition to Northrop Grumman’s CAD application, the Galaxy watches integrate software from CentralSquare Technologies, Caliber Public Safety and Tyler Technologies. The CAD applications all leverage Samsung Knox, Samsung’s mobile security platform that can securely manage the devices once deployed.

Caliber’s PocketCop allows first responders to receive CAD call assignments and mark themselves en route, on scene and clear from an assignment, or as on/off duty. They can also send and receive alerts about dangerous situations, including notifying if further assistance is needed.

CentralSquare Technologies Field Ops connects to Inform CAD, allowing an officer to send a location to dispatch, change a status, see and feel (through haptic feedback) a hot return on a query, see the details of an incident, and receive help without having to send a message as the watch detects when an officer is in a struggle or running.

Tyler Technologies New World ShieldForce app allows officers to self dispatch in response to an active call for service, as well as participate in chat messages and receive immediate updates and status changes on incidents directly from the watch.

“The Galaxy smart watch solutions we have developed with our partners Northrop Grumman, CentralSquare Technologies, Caliber Public Safety and Tyler Technologies solve for a range of mobile challenges in the field,” said Jones. “Beyond the communications and connectivity benefits, these devices now help public-safety agencies gain real-time awareness of their teams’ health and wellness in the field, and provide critical information and location data into command views of incidents. We are excited for the potential this offers to first responders everywhere.”

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